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Stories from another life, review of The Power of Moments, and some gardening
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The cesspools I read in your handwriting

In 2001/02 I worked at my hometown newspaper, circulation 30,000, population 80,000. Internally, print journalism couldn't figure out if the internet was a death knell, or just a fad for weirdos.

As one of those aforementioned weirdos, I spent a lot of time on the internet. Especially at my job that had — gasp! — broadband internet. In those days, the internet was the place I sought connections outside my hometown to find others like me. To get out of my largely purposeless and adrift without a plan life, which I desperately (badly) hid.

In a world of t-shirts, jeans, and cowboy or hiking boots, the newspaper staff itself featured rare phenomena in Bend. Men were required to wear suits and ties, and women business casual. My plaid pants surely pushed on those boundaries, but they weren't jeans! It felt like a real office I'd seen on TV.

The newsroom also hosted a high concentration of overly educated and wildly underpaid employees. Masters degrees seemed like the bare minimum, but even two of them didn't guarantee you'd make over $30,000 a year. Only having a high school diploma (me) stood out. However, reporters all championed more education, and even the ones I didn't know well, continually inquired about applications to colleges.

Dress and education levels always put reporters at odds with citizens. Were you respectful or trying to be better than them? Did you spend time on your stories, or just applying for any job you could find to get the heck out of hickville and back to NYC? (I'd never been to NYC.) Was it a practical joke when the newsroom conned the just out of NYC grad school reporter to ask the closeted mayor if he's gay? None of us cared, but the mayor's town of 5,000 voted against marriage equality in 2004.

I primarily worked with the public through the phone and over email and fax. Yes, fax. The time everyone needed me the most was when the fax machine or printer ran out of ink.

One of my duties was overseeing the letters to the editor. The letters were largely boring, but sometimes wacky. There were the old guys who always wrote in and had 2-3 letters in the "time out" box. I had a scanner for ones typed on typewriters. I loved the people who figured out email. And I had a magnifying glass for old lady cursive done with a ruler under her pen.

As I called to verify the authenticity of authorship for each letter, I got a lot of answering machines. I was always 'Erin, Emily, Rebecca, Kathy' or whatever women's name the writer thought I'd left with my message. I stopped being so nervous about sounding dumb on the phone with strangers. Even when awkwardly calling my gynecologist to verify her letter about town infrastructure.

Then 9/11 happened.

The letter sections changed. No one wanted to talk about the speed limit on Bend's Parkway anymore. (Still too low.) The letters reeked of racism and Islamophobia. Their writers mistook jingoism for patriotism. They called for all out war, for bombing the entire Middle East. They rallied and hungered for an eye for an eye. They were paranoid Central Oregon would be attacked — because the middle of Oregon is definitely the next terrorist target after NYC and DC!

Looking back, I wish I would've sent more letters back for racism, instead of just editing out lines with racial slurs and okaying them for print. 9/11 changed my view on how much I had to get out of town. I couldn't live somewhere the terrorist had won, the Patriot Act was cool, and war was the best.

Of course now, the letter writers have found the internet. Now Trump emboldens the worst in humanity the way 9/11 was their bell. The internet's no longer a fad, or a place for weirdos to find each other over Babylon 5 fanfiction. It's so widely used and adopted that bad actors, whether the Internet Research Agency or FCCC chairman Ajit Pai, seek to or straight up control populations over the internet.

But don't tell me that ugly comment sections are unique to the internet; the post-9/11 letters to the editor were as disgusting and abhorrent as anything I've seen on Facebook or 4-chan posted by actual people.

Sure, a flood of bots didn't overwhelm my inbox, our mail room, or the fax machine. But hate, that's people's fault, and same for falling for us vs them rhetoric again and again. Stop acting like prosperity is a zero sum game, or that liberation will lead to your oppression. I read your racial slurs when they were in your own handwriting too.


Bookworm corner

Alpha (Jad Bell #1) by Greg Rucka ⭐️ 2/5 stars
Part of my #52Challenge. Full review coming soon.

Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories by Nichelle Nichols ⭐️ 4/5 stars
Part of my #52Challenge. Full review coming soon.

Binti (Binti #1) by Nnedi Okorafor ⭐️ 5/5 stars
Most excellent. Part of my #52Challenge. Full review coming soon.

Bombshells: United Vol. 1: American Soil by Marguerite Bennett, David Hahn, Pasquale Qualano, Siya Oum, Sandy Jarrell, Marguerite Sauvage, Luciano Vecchio, and Marcelo DiChiara ⭐️ 3/5 stars
As Bennett moves part two of this book onto American soil and into the Pacific theater, it hasn't quite found its footing.

Jem and the Holograms: Infinite by Kelly Thompson, Jenn St-Onge, Stacey Lee, and Jen Hickman ⭐️ 3/5 stars
A bit of a disappointing wrap up for Thompson's time on this book.

Kim & Kim Vol. 2 Love Is A Battlefield by Magdalene Visaggio and Eva Cabrera ⭐️ 4/5 stars
Kim and Kim, dare I say, grow up a little bit in this book. Still a ton of fun. I do wish we had some bigger arcs for these characters. I kept wishing for little details to play out later in the story.

The Legend of Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Origins by Renae De Liz ⭐️ 3/5 stars
I wanted to love this book. The story itself is an outline for a fresh Wonder Woman retelling. Unfortunately, there are issues with De Liz's script being overly verbose and lettering that was hard to read in parts. They took away from my general enjoyment of the book.

Love Is Love: A Comic Book Anthology to Benefit the Survivors of the Orlando Pulse Shooting by Marc Andreyko (editor) ⭐️ 2/5 stars
Took me forever to finish this. I wanted stories by queer creators celebrating queerness.

My first slowdown was because so many of these stories focus on the horror of the Pulse shooting, and it was too much.

The second was when it was clear so many stories were by cishet straight people, missing nuances of queer life and meditating on their allyship or how to talk to their kids.

The third was sloppy editing of stories that erased bisexuality, pansexuality, and asexuality. With a big bonus of James Robinson's story deadnaming a trans character, who is one of the few trans characters depicted.

I wanted to like it. The art was actually above average. And it's great that the proceeds went to charity to benefit Pulse survivors.

She-Hulk, Volume 2: Let Them Eat Cake by Mariko Tamaki, Julian Lopez, Bachan, Georges Duarte, and Francesco Gaston ⭐️ 3/5 stars
I wanted so much more from this volume. Tamaki does an incredible job with beginnings and endings here, but the middle portions, they just drag.

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek ⭐️ 1/5 stars
Part of my #52Challenge. Ugh. Save yourself a headache and just watch his TED Talk. This book offers no further insights, except for Sinek to have a book.

What Would Captain Picard Do?: Captain's Orders from the U.S.S. Enterprise by Brandon T. Snider ⭐️ 1/5 stars
Not good. The advice is fine, but sometimes very specific to TNG situations. The pictures, the layouts, and the typography? Awful. So much Impact font.

Wild Seed (Patternmaster #1) by Octavia E. Butler ⭐️ 4/5 stars
Part of my #52Challenge. Link to the full review is further below.


Book review special! (only available here or on my Patreon)

The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan HeathThe Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath
Rating: 2/5 stars
#52Challenge prompt: a book you’ve been meaning to read

With much guilt, I confess that I did not like this book, or believe it to be a worth-your-time read. My disclaimer is that I feel the guilt because I got this copy for free from Chip, who spoke at my conference and offered all our attendees advanced copies, and who I really do appreciate for this.

My other disclaimer is that I am picky as hell about work-related books. They should be the best. I can waste my time reading garbage books for fun, but not garbage books for work. Not in my free time. There are too many other great books out there to enjoy. My time on this planet is short. I only want to read the Shakespeare of work-related books. Give me something top-of-class, unique, or innovative, or else, I’ll let someone else read it.

The Power of Moments is about the psychology and science around peak moments and experiences. Peak moments are experiences we remember later, and meaningfully stick out when we look back at our lives. They can be significant, like getting married, or they can be smaller, like the best moments on your recent vacation. The Heath brothers define as moment as “a sort experience that is both memorable and meaningful.” They focus on positive moments, looking to create positive associations with brands in their work for their clients.

The book then covers how to use Four Elements to create Peak Moments. Each elements get its own section. These elements are Elevation (rise above the every day), Insight (rewire our understanding of ourselves or the world), Pride (capture us at our best), and Connection (social-based moments). “We feel most comfortable when things are certain, but we feel most alive when they’re not.” So how to we — as brands, as educators, as managers, as nonprofit leaders, etc — make people feel that excitement and involvement?

The Heath brothers’ research is interesting. The best parts were the early theory about we psychological respond to these moments, and the Heath brothers laying out where the book would go. I can see why this book got the green light. I found it interesting too as I’m also a nerd about how our brains work and how we create meaningful connections with each other. However, under a stress test, the Heaths don’t provide real frameworks to take away and many of their examples are weak. And this book suffers from a non-specific audience.

As far as I could tell, the audience for The Power of Moments is people who consider themselves leaders, likely business leaders. This non-specificity means the examples wander all over from charter schools and churches to HR retention goals and hotels. It means every framework would have to be tailored to an individual. I’m certainly not opposed to critical thinking or twisting applications to my industry or business’ needs. However, it basically means the Heaths leave you with “here’s what we think is going on — and oh, yeah, this is really hard — good luck.”

I pushed myself hard to think of ways to apply these lessons in a repeatable manner to my business. Specifically my role as a product manager. I got some ideas — which is probably why this book is two stars, not one — but not enough, and not for the task that I wanted. Especially as I factored in my business constraints: limited resources (me), tiny budget, and time.

At times, the framework they did try to provide in breaking down the Four Elements got confusing. I hope there was some editing done between my advanced copy and the final publication.

And finally, the examples. Many of the examples seemed to break their own framework. The very first example is about a charter school, who’s made their graduation ceremony into a community event where each student’s accomplishments of graduation and acceptance into a college are celebrated. Their previous poor graduation and college attendance rates were shared, and despite my feelings on charter schools, this one seems to be doing right by its students. I don’t want to step on that.

However, as an example, graduation is already a peak moment. You remember your graduation whether it was incredible, mediocre, or terrible. It is already an “end” which the Heaths cite that we humans are more prone to remember beginnings and endings. Yes, this school made graduation a great experience, but it was already a peak moment that they just improved upon. Those of us say, trying to figure out how to better onboard our customers to use a product, are unlikely to already have this moment baked into someone’s memory.

Overall, The Power of Moments has a unique angle and theory, but it’s not developed enough into a fully realized application. That’s the book and the million dollar idea for a consulting firm as the key has not been cracked.


Things I wrote recently

On my blog:

It’s a Trap: Review for Wild Seed #52Challenge

This wasn’t what I expected. Of course, I can say that of most any Butler book I’ve read so far. Wild Seed is both the first and the last book in her Patternist series. It’s chronologically first in the universe and set between the 1600s and the 1800s, and it’s chronologically in Bulter’s real world publishing, the final book she wrote for it.

In other places:

Toss Your Hat into the Ring to Speak at CMX Summit 2018 (cmxhub.com)

My extensive advice on how to pitch to speak at a conference. Also, if you're a community builder who wants to speak at CMX Summit, the conference I work on, now's your time.

On Patreon:

Preview: The Power of Moments Review #52Challenge

Preview: Review for Wild Seed #52Challenge

Reviews on my comics blog:

Bombshells: United #4, #5, and #6, book by Marguerite Bennett, David Hahn, Pasquale Qualano, Siya Oum, Sandy Jarrell, and Marcelo DiChiara, rating 2.3/5 stars

Sex Criminals #19, #20, and #21, book by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarksky, rating 4/5 stars


Green thumb update

I love gardening!

my garden plant

This is the plan.

Seeds are planted inside to start growing under a light, and hopefully be transferred outside in the next 4-6 weeks. I cannot wait to also put my adult jalapeno plants back into the garden.

My next step is to put seeds outside so they can germinate as soon as the weather is favorable. It looks like we're going to have a good spring. Ciscoe's 7 things to get your garden ready for spring, if you're in the Seattle area.


Other things

[MY CURRENT SEXUAL ORIENTATION] Janelle Monáe's Make Me Feel music video — the bisexual anthem of the year, featuring my (and maybe Monáe's too) girlfriend Tessa Thompson. This feels like a tribute to Prince, David Bowie, and George Michael. Rest in power.

[BEST BUZZFEED QUIZ EVER?] Which ex-Trump Administration official are you? I got Sean Spicer. Which I'm 100% okay with Melissa McCarthy playing me in my biopic.

[COMICS] DC is releasing a new publishing line called Black Label, where they will make one off graphic novels with famous creators. They finally figured out that longest selling and best selling comics are ones…wait for it…written as stand alone graphic novels!

Thrilled about the Wonder Woman books and John Ridley's book. However, let's put that ole racist homophobe Frank Miller to bed, and Brian Azzarello can keep it after his patriarchal rewrite of Wonder Woman's origins. Let's have a queer person write this Batman and Constantine team up.

[FEMINISM] 100 Easy Ways to Make Women's Lives More Bearable This intersectional list rules!

May your garden grow!

🌱😻👩‍🌾

Erica McGillivray

Copyright © 2018 Erica McGillivray, All rights reserved.


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